Podcast: Jim Gaitan on the impact of mobile tech on dentistry

Hello and welcome to Ascent Dental Radio. A program dedicated to the balance between the clinical aspect of health care and the business of health care. And now here is your host, Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

Kevin: Welcome. You’re listening to Ascent Radio, Ascent-Dental-Solutions, with a focus on education, knowledge, development and training. My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin and I’d like to say thank you to Mr. Doug Foresta who has been producing this podcast. His company is Stand Out and Be Heard. Thank you very much, Doug, for another excellent podcast.

Today, we have a special guest. That guest is Mr. Jim Gaitan. Jim is a 25-year veteran in the dental industry. He has a broad career which includes knowledge of practice management systems, a variety of dental technologies, including the intraoral camera systems, digital radiography, CAD/CAM systems, 3D extra oral imaging and digital impression technology. He helped pave the way for the introduction of digital radiography in the dental marketplace and was an early sales executive at Schick Technology.

During its foundings in 1994, he spent 15 years at Schick. Jim then started a consulting company and provides sales and business development and consulting with several dental technologies and manufacturers. And is a leading distributor to offer help and further spread the use of technology as a platform in the dental industry.

In 2013, he co-founded Dentalfone. It’s a website, an app company that I’ve had personal experience with. And their service, their care to attention and detail has been absolutely over the top and I think our listeners will significantly enjoy what Jim and his company, Dentalfone, can bring to their businesses. Jim, thank you so much for taking your valuable time to be on today’s podcast. Give us a little synopsis of Dentalfone. What was the impetus? Why did you start the company and why did you see a need for it?

Jim: Thank you for having me on your podcast and I hope the listeners will enjoy the information that I’ll be sharing with you today. I started the company on this basic premise; and that was that having been in this industry for 25 years, I started in this industry really before the cell phone became common place.

So having this ability to look back in time and look at how we operated without cellular technology and then looked as things changed and then the introduction of the phone and its proliferation and its widespread use by patients, I think that perspective allowed me to have that one defining moment. That defining moment was really looking at dental practices and what happens as you come into a practice.

As an example, a practice will have some kind of brochure up its front desk with business cards, tri-fold brochure for patients to take with them. And then there’s typically a sign somewhere in the practice either at the front desk or on the door that says, “Hey, we really appreciate compliments and the best way you can compliment our practice is to refer a friend or a family member.”

So referrals are important to dentists. Then I would notice that these signs started to spring up in the waiting rooms and on the front counter or on the way into the operatory there would be a sign of a phone with a big red circle extra which says “turn off your phone”.

So I looked at this I said okay, so here’s a missing opportunity for dentists. Patients are not reading the magazines anymore, they’re not watching television. They’re sitting in the chairs consumed and buried in their smart phones.

So I’m thinking here a dentist wants these brochures to provide some kind of value to the practice. And that is for a patient to take one and when they leave, a couple of days later, they walk into a friend and someone says who’s your dentist or who’s your dental specialist? “Oh, I’ve got this brochure.” But the person’s never going to have that brochure, they’re never going to have your business cards at the opportune time when someone may ask for some information that your then patient could refer them to.

So I looked at this as everyone has their phone. They’re never going to lose their phone. It’s with them 24-7. So why don’t we make a brochure on a phone? If you’re going to have a brochure on a phone, you don’t want it to be menu-driven. You don’t want it to scroll endlessly where you can’t find the beginning or the end like typical websites are.

And so we designed a product called Dentalfone that allows a practice and for us to create for a practice a very visually engaging interaction with the practice via buttons and pictures and very image-oriented and it can convey and portray a practice in a beautiful way on a smart phone. So it’s kind of like an electronic business card or a brochure on a phone. That’s the foundation of the company’s beginnings, is that we wanted to help practices take advantage of these devices and leverage these devices for their patient because the phone is always with that patient.

Kevin: Jim, I can tell you that not only do I practice dentistry five days a week, but I also teach at Tufts Dental School of Medicine and today, I spoke to a practice management group of about 40 students. Before I started, I asked if anyone had a phone and out of 40, all 40 raised their hands with a phone.

What you’re saying, I just cannot emphasis that there isn’t a dentist listening to this podcast today or anyone in health care profession that hasn’t seen that patient on their phone in the dental chair or in the reception room. What struck me is not only did these individuals have phones, but they were actually checking and dissecting my presentation to make sure I was giving them accurate information. I actually had them video tape and I said, “If you video tape it and you do a good job, I’ll give you my three jobs that I’ve written on practice management.” But you hit the nail on the head.

Can you explain to me the significance of Google and the Search Engine Optimization or SEOs and how that relates to your company? Because ultimately, no matter how great the website or the app is, people have to be able to tune into it and ultimately find it. How does that relate to your company, Dentalfone?

Jim: Excellent question. There’s really two ways that I can answer that question. The first way is that today when patients are looking for a dentist, 70 percent of internet searches are on smart phones. I think about mid 2014 timeframe, the number of internet searches on smart phones exceeded that of desktop computers. For the last several years now, and it’s growing every year, people are using their smart phone to do internet search.

So if a patient is looking for a dentist or someone says go to Dr. Jones, the person is going to pick up their phone and they’re going to go to Google and they’re going to type in “dentist near me” or “specialist near me” or “dental implant near me” or the city, New York City, and Google is then going to yield a search result.

How Google’s algorithms produce these results has a lot of factors with the keywords that you put in your website. There’s a lot of things that go into how your website will be displayed and in what quarter.

But the way Google yields searches, and I invite your listeners to try this while they’re listening to this podcast, just type in, if you’re a specialist, “dental implant near me” or “wisdom teeth near me” or whatever service you feel like you want patients to find you through. When you enter that into your phone, into Google, Google will yield a result then the result will have ads at the top. There can be one to four ads on the phone. Sometimes there’s zero ads, sometimes there are four ads. And they’re all dependent on the time of day.

People bid for these ads and keywords so it’s a fluid situation, it changes almost minute by minute. But what you’ll see are ads first. And most people know that these are ads because they have a little thing that says ad, ad, ad. Most people don’t click the ads, but they are a way for practices to promote themselves. Some people do click these ads. If the information in the description is relevant enough, the potential patient may click it.

After that, you have what’s called a Google 3-Pack. This is a map package that shows a map location with your geosynclinal dot, that blue dot, and then it will show some red dots around that, those are the practices that meet the keyword search that are in your general local vicinity.

Below that, Google will display three practices below that. It used to be seven, it dropped to five, now it’s dropped to three. The reason it dropped to three is because we’re talking about mobile phones. Mobile phones only have so much real estate on them. So Google has oriented all of their search mechanics to be phone-friendly. So whether you look at this search on a computer or a phone, it’s only going to yield you a 3-Pack map.

If you’re local to that search and some other factors are met, your practice will be listed in that list of the map pack. Below the map pack is the organic search. These are people that have a history of their website being up for a while, have done some good things with the proper keywords, there’s a good amount of content in there. Some people pay for SEO to get them at these locations, some people have gotten just Google organic results because they keep their website fresh and updated with blogs. But that’s the organic search location.

What’s important is you have to keep in mind that a phone is a four by six screen. If the first screen are the ads and the second screen are the maps with the dentists that meet the map location, and then the next screen, the third screen is your organic search so there’s only going to be about three practices, three websites listed there.

So if you’re not in the first ten organic search locations, patients are not going to scroll seven, eight screens to find your practice. It’s a very valuable real estate on the screen and the Google search results would yield these results for you.

Just to elaborate on that real quickly, if someone does click a site, what they see on that four by six inch screen is really like the marketing of the practice. It’s your new billboard. If they come to something very generic, it doesn’t have your logo, it’s just kind of plain, it’s a very boring looking site, will you engage the patient?

Chances are the patient will say, “Okay, there’s one practice, let me click the next one, let me click the next one.” How your practice is conveyed on that mobile device is going to set that most valuable first impression.

What Dentalfone’s goal is is that when people are searching for you on a phone, we want your practice to be displayed in a very engaging, visually appealing, a very stylish way and also through images and pictures.

If someone is looking for a dentist that does implants and they land on a normal, traditional website on a phone, they’re going to see a logo, a phone number and maybe welcome to Bridge Dale Dentistry and maybe a picture or a stock photo of someone smiling. But on that first screen, there’s no indication that you do dental implants. With a Dentalfone implementation, we have your logo and some buttons, call us, directions, about the practice, meet the doctor, implants. So there would be a button or a picture of an implant. We’re going to make it very visual so if the patient is looking for implants, they don’t have to go through an endless menu system or a scrolling through several screens to know that you do implants.

That’s really the focus of the company, is we want to make sure that on a mobile device, a practice is displayed quickly and easily and visually so patients know what you do and are attracted to the design. Our product is kind of like an app-like design with buttons just like you would see mimicked on your phone. That’s the kind of interface patients like and that’s the interface that we’re providing.

Kevin: Am I correct to assume, Jim, that your company not only focuses on dental applications, but it also focuses on websites and you try to mirror or marry those two technologies to get the best bang for your dollar, is that correct?

Jim: That is correct. Dentalfone has a platform of offerings. Our most basic offering is what we call the Dentalfone App. It’s a web app, it’s cloud-based app so it has a URL, it has a website. It doesn’t have to be downloaded from the app store. When I first started the company three years ago, there were a number of companies selling apps in the dental space. I think many of them all just disappeared. They’re not really out there anymore. People don’t want to load a dental app through the app store and take two minutes and their Apple ID and use their passwords.

What we do is create a web app. You literally can create a URL jonesdentistryapp.com, brooklynapp.com, whatever the available URL is that has some affinity to the practice and we will create a web app. So our basic product is a web app.

That means you can keep your existing website, you operate business as usual, but you get this web app because now it becomes kind of a tool. You’re able to put it on the patient’s phone for the post-op instructions, emergency information. That’s our basic product.

If the client wants to make this app the website, then we have several ways to do that. We can mimic the same design with the squares and all that on a computer. So when you go to a desktop or laptop computer and you type in the same URL as the app, you’ll see the app come up on the computer with the squares and there will be beautiful backgrounds, pictures of the city, pictures of landscape. Just very nice eye-appealing. So there’s a unique interface on the computer.

One thing that we do beyond that is we have something called a Hybrid Responsive Technology. This is a trademarked product from the company. What we do here is provide a responsive design. But instead of the way responsive designs work today in the marketplace where you have a traditional desktop website and when you go to a phone, what it does is it shrinks that information down into a submenu system of like a hamburger menu or a roller decks and then you have to scroll and scroll and scroll. What we do is we basically use the app-like interface on mobile to be the mobile version of the sites.

All within the same URL, our system measures the phone’s screen size, it determines the display size, in other words, of the device that you’re displaying on and if it’s big and wide, we’ll give you the desktop web appearance with very stylish video. We do very cutting edge desktop websites.

But if the display size is like a tablet or a phone, our software recognizes the shift in the geometry of the display size and will display the app-like interface. Because really since most people are using their phones for internet search, the phone is the most important platform. I can say this quickly, in that the way people have bought websites in the past is you go to a vendor, show them your websites and they spend two hours on a computer showing the websites. So before we end this, what does it look like on a phone? This is such a counter way to look at it today.

The very first thing a dentist should ask when they’re looking at website or any company is what does your website look like on phones? Because if 70 plus percent of the people are looking at the website from the phone, why would you spend 70 percent of the time evaluating the website on the desktop? It should be the exact opposite, the reverse.

Seventy percent of the conversation should be about how does your website look like on a phone and oh, by the way, before we end this conversation, what do you guys look like on a desktop? Because that’s really how people are using the devices to look at websites.

Kevin: There’s no question it’s a paradigm shift. Most of the listeners, I’d like to think all of the listeners know that I only endorse a product, a service that I fully believe in. And your company at this point has provided not just only excellent service, but your systems that are in place have been over the top.

If you don’t mind that I don’t put you on the spot, is there a way that you could give a general fee structure what you could expect the dentist and also a way for them to contact you? Not just dentists but any of the health care providers that are listening to this podcast, how they can reach out and get in touch with your company for a demonstration and additional information and knowledge.

Jim: Our product ranges in price from around $3,000 up to a high of $12,000. Depending on the options that the client is looking for, if you’re looking for the app or a high-end website, a desktop website, video-based systems, these are very, very high-end solution, you’re going to be closer to the $10,000 to $12,000 range.

If you’re looking just for a basic app for the phone and keep your existing website, then you’re down to the $3,000 to $4,000 and $5,000 range, depending on what options people are search for there.

Some of the key things that we’re also adding to the product, and this is something that’s very, very popular to some of our clients is like a translation option. You’re on a phone, you’ve got these buttons and there’s a good degree, depending on the city -- I was just in Chicago recently, Polish, there’s a very big need in the City of Chicago. There’s like a big Polish community. You have your different ethnic communities. You have in some places Korean, Vietnamese.

So we offer a translation option so that if you’re sitting here and a patient is using this app, they can just literally move up a couple of inches and at the bottom it says “Select Language”. They can click the language that they want, Arabic, whatever, and everything in that app changes in a text basis via Google Translate. But it will change everything; all the buttons, names change and all the subsequent text behind all of these buttons and the subsequent pages will all change into that language.

So we offer some additional services that are part of kind of like that price structure I was laying out, but you can get started with the company as low as $3,000 and if you want to go to the full deluxe route, it’s close to $12,000.

I would just say to the listeners this, and that is that good things are seldom cheap, cheap things are seldom good. Our focus is on providing the best maximum value. If you buy a website for $5,000 and its mobile version of it, the scrolling and the menu-driven version of that website doesn’t portray your practice the way you’d like to portray it and if you looked at our product and said, “Wow! That’s a better way to portray my practice,” if I’m $2,000 more, the question is is it worth that additional amount?

If 70 percent of the people are looking at you from a mobile device, then I think I’m worth more. Because quite frankly, we’re focusing our work on helping you and the dental practice look amazing on a phone and to make the product more than just a website.

Most dentists would agree that websites are one and done. The patient will go to it one time and they’ll never go back again. Most patients are not revisiting dental websites. It’s one and done. With Dentalfone, we’re going to make your website kind of a tool. When the patient is leaving, “We have post-op instructions. Very easy with a button, just put this on your phone, it’s cursnerapp.com, just put it up on your phone, click the little post-op instructions and it’s available for you to use.

And oh, by the way, we love referrals. We have a little VIP program for our patients that refer their friends. You can literally share this app via text or you can share it via email and it’s a way for people to go out and pass our business card without having to collect paper in the pocket. Basically, you have your phone, you can help share our practice. We really appreciate it and we reward our patients with a little bit of a whitening discount,” or other ways that you can reward your patients for passing this along.

Kevin: Jim, your website is what?

Jim: My website is www.dentalfone.com. You can also reach us if you want to call our 800 number, we have 855-385-3663 or you can email us at info@dentafone.com and we will reply to your inquiry very quickly.

Kevin: Jim, I cannot thank you enough. I know how busy you are and I know you’ve devoted your life to the dental and healthcare profession and your excitement is evident in this podcast. I can tell our listeners that my experience with Dentalfone has been extraordinary. Their service and care to this point has been over the top and I’m strongly endorsing you to follow up with Jim and his company.

You’ve been listening to Dr. Kevin Coughlin and Ascent Radio. My website is www.ascent-dental-solutions.com. I appreciate you taking the time to listen to this podcast and I strongly recommend that you consider reaching out to Dentalfone, www.dentalfone.com.

I think you’ll be very pleased with what they can do. With almost 13 billion searches a month in Google and 70 percent coming from a mobile phone, I think we’d be making a mistake not to take advantage of this opportunity.

Thank you again. And I want to give a special thanks to Mr. Doug Foresta, Stand Out and Be Heard. Once again, an excellent job in producing this podcast and I appreciate it greatly. Thank you to my listeners and I look forward to talking to you next week.